Double-tonguing and jaw pain. Advice.

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Dark Knight, Sep 4, 2010.

  1. lakerjazz

    lakerjazz Mezzo Piano User

    Oct 10, 2006
    Oh okay- just a misunderstanding then. When I said "hurt," I meant getting tired and tongue getting "thick." I'm not questioning your expertise-
  2. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    double tonguing is actually something that should be taught starting the second or third lesson. Then it is easy to to get it to do what it needs to.

    I have had students that get pain while learning to multiple tongue. The reason was always the same - too much too fast. I start my students on double tonguing scales first - the play the scale in half notes first, then double/triple tongue:
    tu ku tu ku tuuuuuuuuuu on each note going up and tu ku tu ku on each note going down. Then comes triple tonguing. We do this for the first year of lessons, then I introduce music with multiple tonguing. By then, everything is second nature.

    The motions required for multiple tonguing are not "natural". Depending on how you play trumpet, the demands can be contrary to your "normal" tongue activity. hat can cause discomfort, cramps or pain depending on how intensively that you practice.

    The solution is to slow down. A good teacher can help reduce conflicting tongue activity and get this stuff light and easy.
  3. Dark Knight

    Dark Knight Pianissimo User

    Apr 7, 2010
    Bob, Rowuk, Stuart, LakerJazz, and ComeBackKid

    Thank you all so much for your responses. Your feedback does mean a great deal to me.

    I have been so happy with my progress thus far. I do not claim to be any good, just better than I was the month before. That is why I got scared by pain in the TMJ during double tonguing; it felt like a huge setback. I started questioning my embouchure, my mouthpiece, everything. I was starting to get very discouraged. Your feedback let me know that probably those things are OK, and I do not have to go on any sidetrack to figure out what is wrong with those basics. What is wrong is the double-tongue progression that I have been taken through, which is none. I was basically thrown in the deep end. OK for some I guess. I double-tongued the etude this past Friday and it sounded fine to the teacher even though I described the pain and trying to work around it.

    The good news is that I have met with a trumpet professor in June at my university and he has agreed to take me on in the Fall when he returns for classes. So, I believe there is help on the way; he is just not here yet. I will let you know how that goes for sure.

    Once again, thank you, this has been VERY helpful. This kind of feedback is why TM is so important to me.

    Best Wishes,

  4. tpsiebs

    tpsiebs Piano User

    Feb 6, 2010
    Randolph, New Jersey
    Certainly, TMJ sounds likely from your description of the jaw pain. I my be opening a Pandora's box here but some teachers believe that the bottom and top teeth MUST align, which for some people means they actively need to "jut" their jaw forward. Such hyperextension can aggravate TMJ. I would consider carefully the need for such alignment and do some reading about the Reinhardt Pivot System as he systematically categorized successful brass embouchures. Those people who have naturally a recessed jaw are described (to a tee).

    Thickness of the tongue with respect to double tonguing? One must remember that the tongue is a muscle and can tire. You have been attacking and tonguing notes using the syllable "TAH" or something like that for a LONG time and the "K" very well may be less developed. Also, there is the coordination of T-K-T-K-T-K that needs to be developed too. You can't "think" your muscles into shape or mentally make muscular coordination through brain power - if you want to swim, you've got to get wet; and sometimes that means spitting and sputtering. Sounds like your new teacher more or less nailed it.
  5. kingtrumpet

    kingtrumpet Utimate User

    Sep 20, 2009
    New York State USA
    Dark Night,
    for what it is worth - I am a 45 yr old comeback player. 21 months at it -- and periodically my jaw or face muscles hurt. I need those muscles to hold my embouchere - so I work them. When I do a "heavy" practice day -- I do it all, low/high notes, long tones, double triple tonquing, etc. So I can't narrow it down for you, But I know if I take a few days to play softly, or take an actual day off --- then all is better - muscles have time to repair and rebuild --- and I always come back stronger each time.
  6. Dark Knight

    Dark Knight Pianissimo User

    Apr 7, 2010

    Thanks. I have been monitoring myself really carefully these to make sure things stay in check. I can still occaisionally have a dull ache in the jaw joint if I overdo double-tonguing, but it is much better than before. Sometimes not at all if use moderation. I am still waiting for the trumper professor to set a date for when lessons begin and this will be my first question.

    Every now and than I can only get one 45 to 60 minute practice session in (there are usually two). The next day is always a stronger playing day. So, I guess those easy days or days off can really help. Thanks for the advice.

  7. jongorrie

    jongorrie Pianissimo User

    May 9, 2010
    If your jaw is getting tense and hurting when practising double tonguing, you may simply be tensing up. By this I mean that the added movement of your tongue could be adding tension to the root of the tongue, as well as perhaps the pharynx/larynx area, as well as the jaw.

    "Closing the throat" as we often hear, may occur when double-tonguing. In effect, blocking the glottis but blowing at the same time (valsalva maneuver) can create tensions in many parts of the breathing apparatus, as well as musculo-skeletal system.

    Try moving the point of articulation further forward in your mouth, and strange as it may sound, intersperse plenty of relaxed breathing exercises in your double-tonguing practise.

    Check neck and shoulder tension too, as this can 'radiate' to the jaw.

    Best of luck!
  8. Dark Knight

    Dark Knight Pianissimo User

    Apr 7, 2010
    Thanks. I will keep these things in mind. Things have quieted down to a dull ache but I never used to have an achy jaw joint. So, I am definately doing something wrong. I am just waiting for the trumpet professor to let me know when he has time for me. I can attack the problem better then.

  9. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

    May 4, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    Patient: Doc it hurts when I do this. Doc: If it hurts DON'T DO IT!! Pain when you play/practice only produces bad playing habits. Stop what you are doing and wait until you can get with someone who can show you how to do it without pain!
  10. Dark Knight

    Dark Knight Pianissimo User

    Apr 7, 2010

    I have been too hard-headed when it comes to practicing. I have worked so hard to learn it and I so very much want to keep making progress. If I am being really honest with myself, there are bars that are above my chop strength and I am performing some type manoeuvre to squeak-out the notes while performing the K portion of the double tongue. I thought that if I continued to practice I would figure it out, but after tonight have resolved to just stop the double-tonguing the Etude. The ach in my jaw is starting to carry over to other things and it is not worth it. Yes, I will stop.

    As an aside, I was double tonguing a very simple scale pattern in the first practice session of the day, Exercise #6 from Lesson #23 in Rubank’s Elementary Method. It is all light and easy up to middle C. No problems at all. Between D and E is a critical transition point wherein I find it difficult to articulate and must be doing something stupid. As a beginner with only about a month of practicing double tonguing, I have to take a bit easier on this stuff and work more gradually. I will do that only with the instructor.

    Best Wishes,


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